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Should "Music Theory" Forum Be Independent of Instrument, Instead of in the "Double Bass" Section?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by mrmxyzptlk, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. mrmxyzptlk


    Jul 16, 2008
    Hi! I've been a member of TalkBass for several years. I posted only sporadically for a long time, and have only recently stepped up my activity a bit. I never knew until today that there was a "Music Theory" forum. It was hidden from my sight because I post mostly in the "Bass Guitar" forums. Interesting.

    I'm a trained musician who has played lots of jazz gigs and club dates. I just happen to have done them exclusively on electric bass. It never would have occurred to me that some would consider music theory to be of interest only to upright players. Or perhaps electric bassists discuss theory in the "General Instruction" forum?... Anyway, I guess I'll poke my head in here from time to time to look for music theory discussions!
    J_Bass likes this.
  2. Too many "alternative facts" when the BG side discusses music theory for me, sorry.
    longfinger, dtsand, DrayMiles and 5 others like this.
  3. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    A lot of them prefer tab to actually learning anything about theory.
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Theory discussions do indeed happen in the General Instruction subforum on the slab side. There are only a handful of threads each month, sadly.

    If I need my fix, I come here... Or go read a book. It's not impossible.

    I would question however, whether any instrument based divides in music theory subs need to be established. Why have Music Theory subs on both sides, and not discuss theory in one larger general subforum?

    And I do sense a bit of hostility against slab players already? That didn't take long...
  5. mrmxyzptlk


    Jul 16, 2008
    Yes, I agree; theory is theory. Why not keep the "Music Theory" forum independent of instrument?

    In the mid-'80s I was a grad student and teaching assistant at University of Miami, a school renowned for its jazz program. I played only electric bass. There were numerous other electric players at the school at the time who were theory-literate. It was an era when Jaco Pastorius and others had pointed the way toward a future in which one could specialize in the electric bass and be a "serious" and literate musician. I suppose times have changed since then, but still it came as somewhat of a shock and a disappointment to me to see the "Music Theory" forum stuck here, as if it would be of interest only to upright players.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  6. I agree, in theory, but:

  7. mrmxyzptlk


    Jul 16, 2008
    I've edited the title of this thread based on Nashrakh's post. Clearly it makes more sense to have one "Music Theory" forum that is independent of instrument, rather than both a "Bass Guitar Music Theory" forum and a "Double Bass Music Theory" forum.
  8. Yes, it does make more sense, in theory. But you don't want to go there. Seriously.
    IamGroot likes this.
  9. mrmxyzptlk


    Jul 16, 2008
    Explain, please.
  10. I've been in a couple of theory discussions there, and as @Groove Doctor said above:

    Ross Kratter and Groove Doctor like this.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Years ago, before there was a Music Theory forum on the site, all of the theory discussion took place in General Instruction on the BG side of the forum. At some point, there started to be more and more theory discussion on the DB side, so the mods/admins decided to add a forum here.

    To my mind, the issue isn't that one side is "better than" the other, but rather that DB and BG are really two different instruments and communities that share (for the most part) a similar tuning and musical function. The doubler that truly masters both - folks like Patitucci, Bromberg, etc. - is such a rare breed because they have mastered and maintained two instruments.

    The main reason for having separate sides of the board from the start is the community aspect - the players of each instrument are part of a musical tradition that centers around various styles of music. Also, at this point, bass guitar is an exponentially more common instrument at this point in time. Looking at the stats on the board from its history, we can see that there are 28 posts about BG related topics for every single post about DB related topics. I suspect that if it were possible to measure the existence of instruments out there in the western world, the ratio of BGs to DBs would be much higher that 28 to 1.

    All of this is to say that for DB players this side of the board, while relatively quiet, is a place where DB players can come to talk primarily to other DB players who share the same instrumental tradition and technical challenges. The BG side of the board is the same. Crossover is not disallowed at all, but before the boards were separated there was far too much unintentional crossover, and it aggravated the members of both communities.

    Again: intentional cross posting is welcome; unintentional cross posting is an annoyance.

    I would suggest that, rather than moving this forum or any other forum from the DB side to a "neutral ground", that the forum consider either creating a Theory Forum on the BG side, or alter the name of the General Instruction forum to include Music Theory, since that constitutes a large portion of the discussion there. And all of this with the understanding that any member who wants to intentionally contribute to the discussion on the other side of the board is free to do so.
  12. mrmxyzptlk


    Jul 16, 2008
    Chris: Thanks for the explanation and historical perspective!

    Fredrik: You've "liked" and quoted the same sentence repeatedly, without elaboration. Not helpful. If you're suggesting, as I infer that you might be, that music theory is a subject best kept on a high shelf so that the kids can't get to it, so to speak, then I'm personally insulted.
  13. Absolutely not. I've spent more than 30 years teaching people from 8 to 80. It's not about that. It's about the noise-to-signal ratio. There are a lot of good players in the BG forums. A lot of people who know way more than I do on a lot of subjects. When it comes to theory, there are some people who know a lot. There's also a group of people who think they know a lot. The last group make a lot of noise, without any real contributions to the subject. ("Well, that's MY opinion" etc etc.). I wish your idea would work, but I don't belive it would do any good for anybody.
  14. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    For some reason, almost all debates about Harmony issues/questions on the BG side lead to the same result
    “The thread is closed”, plus some members banned.
    Any harmony issues/questions on the DB side are easily settled by comparing the members’ sigs!
    Different personalities, different environments...
    MonetBass and Groove Doctor like this.
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    While I think that description is a bit exaggerated, there is some truth to the notion that the GI forum theory threads are far more contentious.

    I think the main difference between the two communities is that most professional DB players are trained either in conservatories or schools of music that share a basic curriculum that requires students to study music theory, history, counterpoint, etc. This culture produces a mindset or "musical worldview" that, while allowing for a lot of variation and individuality, is in some ways homogenous and provides a common point of reference for discussion.

    It is far more common for BG players - including professional ones - to be either self taught or to have studied with a private teacher who often includes some music theory in their course of study, but the amount of variance in material typically presented is much greater.

    Personally, I'm sort of a hybrid musician: Trained in music schools on classical guitar, jazz guitar (briefly), piano, and composition but largely self taught on the double bass. When I was at Berklee - one of the newer breed of music schools where BG players are far more common than in conservatories - in '83-84, I learned that the type of theory that was taught there was very different that what was taught in a traditional school of music. Not worse or better, but culturally very different.

    In an ideal world, I wouldn't decide what is theoretically "right" or "wrong" by looking at anyone's credentials on paper or on the internet, but by listening to them play and hearing the music that is produced by their approach to theory regardless of their "paper trail" of training. In the real world, I think that this has always been the best practice.

    :) All good.

    I didn't get that from Fredrik's posts at all, but I do understand his comments about the noise-to-signal ratio and argumentative-ness in the GI forum. Often, people who have not been trained in the empirical aspects of harmony, melody, and rhythm - basically the science of musical intervals and structures - seem to like to weigh in with personal preferences and present them as arguments against the validity of the musical tradition. While it is anyone's right to hold strong personal beliefs and preferences, a theory forum where certain basic tenants are assumed to be true by the majority of members who have studied that science formally is a completely different animal. For instance, in this forum, I can't think of a single instance of a thread whose import was an argument about whether players should learn to read notation or whether learning theory will make a person a worse player than not learning it. Up in GI - at least back in the days when I used to visit regularly - these sorts of threads/posts were pretty common.
  16. stringtapper


    Jun 24, 2009
    Denton, TX
    The "noise" you get in theory discussion on the BG side is caused by something I call…


    (imagine it written in the style of a 1950s horror movie poster)

    The internet is a double-edged sword in that it has allowed us to connect with people and knowledge in ways we never could before, but the viral dissemination of musical misinformation is a very real problem, at least for those of us who are dedicated to bringing musical literacy to as many as we can.

    Musically literate people are already a minority. Add in the bandwidth and amplitude of the internet forum or Facebook discussion and someone who actually knows what they're talking about can easily be outnumbered and shouted down.

    See any discussion involving enharmonic spellings as prime example.
  17. E#?? ***. That's an F! LOL!!1
    stringtapper likes this.
  18. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013

    There are very few, maybe only three, TB members with solidly-advanced harmony/theory knowledge that have that important open-minded attitude towards simple and/or complex harmonic intricacies of new music, sometimes created by less educated musicians.

    I remember those times many decades ago, when our local conservatories started adding "new and progressive ideas" - "Department of Jazz Music."
    And I still remember the "snobbish", arrogant attitude of "serious" Classical Pedagogues/Professors towards that new and "not-serious" entity.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  19. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    I care more about that "lack of open-mindedness" among those "musically literate people" - theoreticians.
    Music Harmony is not(!) a frozen dogma.
  20. mrmxyzptlk


    Jul 16, 2008
    I get that. Relativism (i.e., "My opinions are as valid as your facts!") has infiltrated conversations on myriad subjects throughout our society, certainly including music. (I happened to have become embroiled in a bitter discussion on social media recently regarding a certain Kanye West, which brought this home to me!) I guess I'm still bristling a bit at the idea that "sequestering" the "Music Theory" forum in the "Double Bass" section will help keep music theory discussions free of such pointless arguments.

    Note that I changed the premise of this thread after it was already underway, which might be confusing to some. Assuming the existing TalkBass forum hierarchy to be inviolable, I began by wondering why there is no "Music Theory" forum within "Bass Guitar," but once Nashrakh chimed in with the idea of having a single "Music Theory" forum exist outside of the "Bass Guitar" and "Double Bass" sections, that approach made more sense to me. Chris Fitzgerald's posts have been helpful to me in recognizing why, although putting "Music Theory" in "Double Bass" might not be ideal, it makes a kind of sense.

    I have enjoyed *most* people's contributions to this thread, save for one or two that consisted of little more than gratuitous snobbery. You know who you are...
    Whousedtoplay likes this.

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